Ontario NDP Platform Analysis

On April 16, 2018, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released her “Change For The Better” election platform. This 100-page document, including a fiscal plan, is designed to outline Horwath’s values and vision for Ontario should she be elected Premier on June 7th. The platform builds upon the Ontario NDP’s top five priorities, providing significantly more detail than what Horwath showcased on March 17, 2018. This is the first official election platform from the current Ontario party leaders.

Top Five Priorities
  • Provide drug and dental coverage for all Ontarians
  • End hallway medicine and fix seniors’ care
  • Cut hydro bills 30% by bringing Hydro One back into public hands
  • Take on student debt by converting loans to grants, and creating thousands of student co-op jobs
  • Protect middle class families by having the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations pay their fair share
Healthcare
  • Increase hospital funding immediately by 5.3% with a new $916 million additional investment, and ensure every hospital’s annual funding will be at or above inflation, population growth and include the unique needs of each community, like aging populations
  • $19 billion over 10 years into hospital capital expansion to meet growing capacity needs
  • 2,000 new hospital beds right now
  • Remove arbitrary caps on surgeries to shorten wait times
  • Public transparency on wait times from start to finish
  • Invest $209 million immediately in the First Nations Health Action Plan
Long-term care
  • Create 40,000 more long-term beds, including 15,000 over the next five years
  • Set standards to ensure each resident is offered a minimum of four hours of hands-on care per day
  • Update the Long-Term Care Residents’ Bill of Rights to give couples the right to stay together
Healthier Communities
  • Invest $100 million in Ontario’s Dementia Strategy
  • 70 new public dental clinics and seven new mobile dental buses
  • Add 360 midwives and guarantee no cuts or closures of women’s health centres
  • Invest $30 million in community care and open 35 new Community Health Centres by 2025
  • Complete coverage for take-home cancer drugs
  • Eliminate wait times for palliative and end-of-life care
  • Eliminate home-care wait lists and improve service hours
  • Offer more respite care for family caregivers
  • Place automatic defibrillators in community spaces
Mental Health Services
  • 2,200 new mental-health care workers to ensure access to mental-health care broadly
  • 400 more mental-health workers in order to provide mental health supports in every high school
  • Cut children’s mental health waits to a 30-day max with a $590 million investment
  • Build 30,000 new supportive housing units
Transit and Transportation
  • Bring highway and road maintenance back into the public service
  • Cover 50% of net transit and paratransit operating costs for municipal transit across Ontario
  • Build Toronto’s Downtown Relief Line ASAP
  • Provide two-way all-day GO service between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto
  • Year-round GO service between Niagara and Toronto
  • Implement a Northern Rail Strategy
  • Build Hamilton’s LRT
Affordability for Everyday Life
  • Reduction of Hydro Rates by 30% including ending mandatory of time-of-day pricing
  • Exempt First Nations communities from electricity delivery charges
  • Achieve a 15% discount on auto insurance and end neighbourhood discrimination
  • A Housing Speculation Tax will place a surtax on foreign and domestic speculators who don’t pay taxes in Ontario
  • Build 65,000 new affordable homes over the next decade
  • Allow seniors to defer property taxes until they sell their home
  • Rental housing reforms including eliminating the ability to “renovict” tenants
  • 10 days of unpaid leave for women escaping violence
Economy
  • Provide free child care for families who need it most, and an average daily cost of $12 for all others
  • Create a 10-year $1 billion fund for bringing broadband services to rural and northern Ontario and lobby the federal government to match it
  • Invest over $180 billion over 10 years in infrastructure without P3s
  • Require employers to offer three weeks paid vacation, up from two
  • Labour reforms including card-based certification and first contract arbitration
  • Increase the minimum wage to $15 for everyone, then indexed to inflation
  • Ensure that goods and services purchased by the Ontario Government will increasingly be sourced through Ontario’s small and medium-sized businesses
Environment
  • Ensure every Ontarian, including those in Indigenous communities, has safe reliable drinking water
  • 25% of cap-and-trade revenues will go to support lower-income, rural, and northern households, and trade-exposed industries
  • Introduce a new $50 million no-interest and on-bill home retrofit program to help people consume less power at home
  • Clean up the mercury in the English – Wabigoon River system
  • Create a provincial food and water strategy
  • Invest $100 million in natural gas expansion in rural Ontario
Education
  • Re-write the education funding formula
  • Base special education funding on actual needs, not overall populations, with timely needs assessments.
  • Place a moratorium on school closures until the funding formula is fixed
  • Continue to develop schools as community hubs to provide greater community programming and use of these facilities
  • Invest $16 billion to repair crumbling schools
  • End EQAO testing
  • Fix the rules around education development charges so they can fund the new schools families need
Post-Secondary Education
  • Every student who qualifies for OSAP will get a non-repayable grant instead of a loan
  • Wipe out any student loan interest owed or paid to the province by any student or past student who still holds a provincial loan
  • Foster 27,000 new work-integrated-learning opportunities like co-ops or paid internships for students.
  • Faculty renewal strategy to allow contract educators to become full-time professors
Fiscal Plan
  • Develop a uniform Business Education Tax rate and continue the Education Tax Reduction Plan
  • End a corporate income-tax giveaway, returning the tax rate on profits to 13% in a fair manner that allows businesses to plan
  • Maintain the one-third reduction to small business corporate income tax rate
  • Eliminate loophole that allows big corporations to qualify for a small business exemption
  • Raising income tax on amounts earned over $220,000 by one percentage point, and on earnings over $300,000 by two percentage points
  • Add a three percent surcharge for vehicles that cost more than $90,000

Analysis

If the overarching ballot question is about change, as the polling continues to show, then Horwath would like Ontarians to ask themselves the deeper question – what kind of change do they want after 15 years of the Liberal government.

Learning from the mistakes of the 2014 campaign, prior to the writ period Horwath has placed before Ontarians a comprehensive vision for how she and her party would govern Ontario should they be elected.

The Ontario NDP’s platform addresses traditional NDP issues; however, it also tackles what aggravates people as they go about their daily life by providing a more robust service offering with greater transparency and greater affordability.  This includes the elimination of mandatory time-of-day pricing for hydro, increased investments in health care services and education, and building transit networks across the province.

This is a platform that balances the need for Horwath to be credible on a range of policies, to provide a fiscal framework to pay for her promises, to secure the NDP/ progressive base, and to grow her vote base beyond traditional NDP voters in both urban and rural Ontario.

The credibility of these 100 pages is the first test. The rest will be up to Horwath to convince voters that she is running to win this election, that her version of change is in fact “change for the better”, and that the NDP are ready to govern.

Reaction

In response to the NDP platform, the Ontario Liberals appealed to progressive voters: “Ontario Liberals welcome many of the policies in the NDP platform as we are either already implementing them or because they reinforce our view that this election provides a stark choice between care and Conservative cuts.”  Further, that the “Ontario Liberals had hoped the NDP would join us in campaigning against Doug Ford and on the side of care, instead of cuts.”

The Ontario PC Party has not reacted to the NDP platform release and instead has been communicating the release of its policy to eliminate the provincial income tax from anyone making minimum wage.

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